Five young wordsmiths use poetry to reflect and inspire change
Today is Earth Day, an annual event that sets out to educate individuals on different issues affecting the environment, raise awareness of climate change, and encourage people to live more sustainable lifestyles that protect natural resources. It also celebrates the achievements of climate activists around the world.
Nature has always provided wordsmiths with an infinite source of inspiration. However, while the Romantic poets wrote about nature’s beauty, today’s ecopoets call out the destruction caused by poor choices and poor policy, while inspiring listeners to do their part.
We’ve selected five poems written and performed by five young poets about the environment.
“A Climate of Change”, by George the Poet
George the Poet is a London-born spoken word performer of Ugandan heritage. His innovative brand of musical poetry has won him critical acclaim both as a recording artist and a social commentator. The Royal Society for Arts commissioned George to write this poem for their 2015 event, “The Point is to Feel it: A Night of Creative Responses to Climate Change.”
“Off Beat”, by Eliza Schiff
Eliza lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a neighborhood strongly affected by Hurricane Sandy. In 2019, she was a finalist for Climate Speaks, a youth arts program about the climate crisis at the Climate Museum. “As a young person of the world who has experienced first hand the danger of a changing climate, I live in perpetual awareness of the threat that faces my generation. I know that speaking out about climate change is one of the greatest powers we have to combat this danger, and we must use our voices to the best of our abilities,” says Eliza.
“Earthrise” by Amanda Gorman
Amanda Gorman is the 23-year-old poet and activist who performed at U.S. President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony earlier this year. In 2018, she wrote this poem about climate change, which is dedicated to former Vice President Al Gore. Entitled "Earthrise", Gorman wrote the poem for an initiative by The Climate Reality Project—an organization dedicated to raising awareness and encouraging action on climate change.
“Woodland For Sale”, by Nadia Lines
Nadia Lines is a 2019 top 15 Foyle Young Poet whose work has been published multiple times by The Young Poets Network. Originally from Herefordshire, she is currently studying at the University of Cambridge. In 2020, she won the Tower Poetry Prize for her poem, “Woodland For Sale.”
“The Bees Have Been Canceled”, by Maya C. Popa
Maya C. Popa wrote "The Bees Have Been Canceled" in 2014 after reading about the dwindling population of bees. In 2020, her debut collection of poems, American Faith, was named the recipient of the North American Book Prize. Popa is the Poetry Reviews Editor at Publishers Weekly and teaches poetry at NYU.